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# Math Fan Content

##### Winter Games

Snowflakes

Snowflakes are tiny ice crystals formed within the earth’s atmosphere. The research on snowflakes began thousands of years ago.  A snow crystal is a single crystal of ice, where the water molecules are lined up in a hexagon shape. They are not frozen raindrops—the size of snow crystals changes based on the temperature of the air. The smallest crystals are called “Diamond Dust.”

There are many different types of snowflake shapes. The two most commonly thought of shapes are plates and stellar crystals. Read more

Why do Snowflakes have hexagonal shapes?

Snowflakes are symmetrical because they reflect the internal order of the water molecules as they arrange themselves in the solid-state (the process of crystallization). Water molecules in the solid-state, such as in ice and snow, form weak bonds (called hydrogen bonds) to one another. These ordered arrangements result in the basic symmetrical, hexagonal shape of the snowflake. In reality, there are many different types of snowflakes (as in the cliche that 'no two snowflakes are alike); this differentiation occurs because each snowflake is a separate crystal that is subject to specific atmospheric conditions, notably temperature and humidity, under which it is formed. Read more on Scientific American

Snow Crystals

Twin snowflakes mentioned in the video is created by Prof. Kenneth G. Libbrecht from Caltech.  He studies the molecular dynamics of crystal growth, including how ice crystals grow from water vapor, which is essentially the physics of snowflakes.  Make sure you visit his page to explore EVERYTHING known about snow crystals.

Snowflakes in Math Class - Paper Cutouts

Snowflake Activities with Polypad(K8)

Use the random polygon tool to create a tree figure that can tessellate (tile the plane without gaps and overlaps).

You may discuss the slope of the edges along the way.

Here is a sample Polypad.

Koch Snowflake Polypad Activitiy

Snowflakes look like they come from another dimension.

In fact, they really do!

Draw the Koch Snowflake Fractal with Polypad and check out the task page to explore the amazing properties of the Koch Snowflake

The Smartest way to Countdown: Math Advent Calendars

More with Origami

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